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Destination education

Ellie Akough, Reporter

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Teenagers often succumb to the experience of being dragged from place to place. A good chunk of students moved here from places all over North America. The school’s foreign exchange students get a chance to experience an American school during their stay, but because of family life, there are a few students who just happen to find themselves hustling from school to school throughout their four year career.

Elkhorn South senior Connor Berkman and his family pulled up stakes in 2017 from Canada. He attended high school in Kincardine, Ontario. Connor says that the biggest change was the culture shock.

“I went to a small school and it was open campus, lunch was an hour, we only had four classes a day,” Berkman said.

The day in day out curriculum and homework isn’t what changes for most of these students. Even being an AP Honors student, Berkman says he doesn’t have homework anyway. He stressed that Elkhorn South places more importance on tests than Canada. South checks aptitude through courses specifically designed to assist students on the ACT, through having multiple tests in every core class every week. As for Canada, that’s a different story. They have fewer tests further apart which are longer and less effective on grades.

“Everyone’s smarter here,” Berkman said. “It’s faster paced.”

Not only did Berkman say he liked the advanced, rigorous culture of Elkhorn South, he said the social climate was easier as well.

“Here, there are cliques; everyone fits into a group,” Berkman said. “In Canada, it’s basically two groups, the populars and the not populars.”

Berkman explained how Elkhorn South is more of a spectrum of people whereas Canada was more of a “yes or no”.

Former Elkhorn South student Sydney Yudelson moved away from Nebraska the summer before her senior year. She was on the school track and diving teams, theater, and an AP Honors student. Yudelson moved because her dad got a job offer in L.A., so her and her family packed up their things August 2018 and moved to Agoura Hills, California. Although she stressed that the move was emotionally hard for her, Yudelson said that it has opened new doors for her academically.

“South’s curriculum is more advanced too whereas Agoura is fairly average,” Yudelson said. “Our grading scale is by 10% increments instead of 7%, which has really given my GPA a huge boost; especially with applying for colleges and stuff like that.”

Even with circumstantial advantages, Yudelson summarized how Elkhorn South set her up to know how to use those advantages.

“I’m ahead of the curve,” Yudelson said. “I’m more adaptable to teaching styles and curriculum and most of what I’m learning I was already taught last year.”

As for tests, California is still much more test-oriented than Connor Berkman’s Canadian high school. Yudelson expressed that her new high school pushes the SAT (a scholastic aptitude test that costal and non-Midwestern colleges use; it’s much like the ACT), and requires her to take a test in every core subject about once a week. Even though her academic schedule at Agoura Hills is just as academically demanding as her academic schedule at Elkhorn South, her block scheduling in California makes it less stressful.

“I only have to do 2/3 subjects of school a night instead of 7, we have more work time in our classes to finish homework or ask questions, and I have a teaching internship at a local elementary school where I spend my first block every other day,” Yudelson said. “The day seems less difficult when I only have to worry about half of my classes for two hours as opposed to all of my classes for 45 minutes.”

Despite the excitement of moving to a different school, Yudelson still appreciates Elkhorn South for her experience and hard work.

“I think, even though I didn’t really like Elkhorn South while I was there, I’m really going to miss it,” Yudelson said. “The grass is always greener, of course, but my life is never going to replicate the same culture of having everyone around you, everyone, striving for their best all at once.”

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